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Church leaders should acquire academic knowledge: CCA

Local News
NewsDay Features Editor Jairos Saunyama (ND) caught up with CCA President Archbishop Rocky Moyo (RM) who revealed, among other issues, the organisation’s partnership with the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) in the initiative. Below are excerpts from the interview.

THE Council for Churches in Africa has been mobilising church leaders including those from apostolic sects to consider taking academic courses to equip themselves with administrative skills. NewsDay Features Editor Jairos Saunyama (ND) caught up with CCA President Archbishop Rocky Moyo (RM) who revealed, among other issues, the organisation’s partnership with the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) in the initiative.

Below are excerpts from the interview.

ND: Since the formation of CCA few years ago, what have been your major achievements so far?

RM: CCA was formed on the realisation that there is no existence of a body representing indigenous churches at regional and continental levels regardless of its (African continent) commitment to submit to the peace, unity and development as tenets for a just society. Religion in Africa is premised on uniting several nationalities based on Ubuntu as a mechanism for guiding or determining tolerance, co-existence, societal ethics and morality.

Since its inception, CCA has managed to ensure there is a mutual relationship established among the church and other critical stakeholders of several African countries through conformity to their respective national templates (their national constitutions). This ensures establishment of cordial relations with both State and non-State actors of respective countries from which we operate in as a means to sustainable peace. Engagement is another achievement that the organisation has managed to make since its establishment. Through our Directorate for Research, Policy Formulation and Coordination; we managed to craft some initiatives which were tailor-made to ensure inclusion of all in decision-making processes. This has also enabled our efforts to establish trust among societal stakeholders, genuine dialogue among warring parties in societies, developing a culture of peace and reviving platforms for accepting responsibility and ownership to any societal outcomes, whether good or bad.

ND: There have been church constitution crises and succession battles of late, what is your take on that?

RM: Church leaders and their respective churches were transformed through the establishment of flexible or substantive constitutions and constitutionalism. This has been another major achievement that the CCA has made to ensure churches operate in an environment with minimal supervision and surge in church-related conflicts through crafting of constitutions with stipulated or clear succession policy frameworks. We also managed to mobilise resources throughout Africa to make sure that some of our members realise property ownership and control. Property rights and ownership are some of the major challenges that African indigenous churches have been facing and acquiring such among our membership therefore becomes sort of empowerment. The then colonial administrators were availing funds, grants and mortgages for their missionary churches, which was not a privilege for African indigenous churches. With such initiatives, therefore, it helps CCA to build an inclusive social, political, economic, religious and legal texture to suit both the content and context that the continent has been in short supply of. It has been long overdue for Africa to establish a solitary institution that monitors, co-ordinates, advocates, influences and implements initiatives which drive religion as a mechanism for determining peace and development.

ND: Taking care of the elderly has been CCA’s priority, what is your motivation towards this group?

RM: It is the duty of the church through compassion and mobilisation desk responsible for taking care of less privileged members of our society. These include but are not limited to providing for the basics to elderly people of our society. We distribute necessities among the elderly as a way of appreciating what they did for us when they were still economically and physically active. It is a treasure to live with the aging population as it is a fountain of wisdom and archive for trans-generational beneficiaries.

ND: There has been talk of a looming partnership with ZOU, what is it about?

RM: As indigenous churches have grown in terms of membership and following, we have realised that the level of administration, management, control and ownership becomes complex. This, therefore, calls for some leaders who not only possess wisdom but also knowledge and expertise on sustainability of their respective churches. The context and content of indigenous churches have also been revolutionised by their exposure to modernity, legal frameworks in which they operate on, behavioural changes, the rise in civic society organisations or movements and changes in lifestyle patterns. We have realised that some of our congregants and leadership might not be academically gifted, but have skills, passion and zeal to develop; hence acquiring such knowledge and expertise as offered by institutions of higher learning would be noble. Also, Zimbabwe Open University is unique in that it offers some courses which, are flexible, affordable and convenient for our membership which therefore makes it the best option for development.

ND: You have been on the forefront encouraging church leaders to academically equip themselves through taking theology courses, why the move?

RM: Church leaders should academically equip themselves as part of development in our quest to transform African independent churches and change the narrative that our churches are docile.

This would also help in equipping them with specialised knowledge, techniques and skills to counter circumstances such as church splits and conflicts, espouse flexibility and adaptation to changing environments to complement their operations, among others. This would also help them to contribute towards meaningful engagements and participation during Religious Clergy Conferences which shape policy formulations, co-ordination, implementation and reviews or evaluations. It therefore, calls for certain technical and specialised skills among our leadership which makes our organisation a force to reckon with.

ND: As a church organisation, what challenges are you facing?

RM: Access to land ownership remains major impediment which our churches are faced with. Owning a farm remains a pie in the sky among some of our church leaders though they applied for such since time immemorial. Regardless of them applying for small pieces of land to engage in farming and other income-generating projects, their intended investments remain a futile exercise.

As churches, we are both custodians and recipients of less privileged members of our society including the differently abled people, drug and substance abuse victims, among others.

Churches require land to establish more correctional and rehabilitation centres for victims of gender-based violence, drug and substance abuse and differently abled members of the community.

We, therefore, appeal to relevant authorities including government officials from various countries from which we operate in to avail land to churches.

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